On International Women’s Day 2019, we launched the #BalanceForBetter gender consultation across the Civil Service to help us shape our future priorities for improving gender equality.
As part of this, I am introducing blog posts from women and men describing their stories. The first blog is from Jo and Anna, a job share at the Department for International Development, who demonstrate that flexible working can support staff to have rewarding careers in the Civil Service. Read about their reflections on job sharing below.
Melanie Dawes, Civil Service Gender Champion
We are attempting a co-written blog in true job-share style!
We have been in a job-share for around two years and wanted to share a few reflections. One of many reasons for wanting to work for the Civil Service is its vision for being a brilliant place for women to work. Our job-share is one of many expressions of this ambition.
We both wanted a way of balancing a stretching job with personal commitments, and the job-share has been a great way of achieving that. We have been surprised by its benefits to us – it is energising to work in partnership, to have another perspective to bounce off, to share the ups and downs and to be ambitious in our careers together, without feeling like our family life comes second.
We also believe it benefits the organisation. Bringing two minds to an issue has enabled us to take policy agendas in new directions and to greater levels of ambition than perhaps we would have achieved on our own.
We have had to be intentional about our approach to the job-share to ensure it works seamlessly. From the outset, we put trust at the centre and an agreement to leave any ego and competition at the door. Our own success or failure is hinged to the other, so it’s in our mutual interest to support one another to be the best we can be. This has been essential to ensure we present a united front, communicate clarity in decisions and not vie for individual visibility over promoting our joint work.
It is an approach that can be challenging to an individualised career culture, with performance management systems that reflect this. But through honest conversations with our line manager, we have been able to bring an alternative perspective to the process.
We feel really supported in our job-share by our team and management. We have invested in regular feedback and coaching to ensure we understand our differences, as well as our strengths, and how to play to both. And we have had a lot of interest from others who see it as a potential option for their careers.
However, the organisational culture still needs to shift significantly if we are to see job-shares and other flexible working patterns role-modelled at the most senior levels of the Civil Service, for both women and men.
We would love to hear your views on the potential as well as the obstacles to flexible working in the Civil Service through the internal gender consultation. We want to hear from all civil servants about whether we are focusing on the right areas in the pursuit of gender equality. The consultation period will close on 26 April 2019.
You can find the gender consultation report on your departmental intranets, and email your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.